Stat: Complaints About Airline Service Up

In April, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Air Travel Consumer Report said the DOT received 1,259 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 16.0 percent from the 1,085 complaints filed in April 2013, and up 12.5 percent from the 1,119 received in March 2014.

Despite this, the nation’s largest airlines posted an on-time arrival rate of 79.6 percent in April, up from both the 77.3 percent on-time rate posted in April 2013 and the 77.6 percent on-time rate posted in March 2014, according to the DOT.

In addition, the reporting carriers canceled 1.1 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in April, down from both the 1.8 percent cancellation rate posted in April 2013 and the 1.9 percent rate posted in March 2014.

The consumer report also includes data on tarmac delays, chronically delayed flights, and the causes of flight delays filed with the DOT. In addition, the consumer report contains information on mishandled baggage reports filed by consumers with the carriers and airline service complaints received by the Department’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

Tarmac Delays: In April, airlines reported no tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and one tarmac delay of more than four hours on an international flight.

Chronically Delayed Flights: At the end of April, there was one flight that was chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for two consecutive months. There were no chronically delayed flights for three consecutive months or more.

Causes of Flight Delays: In April, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 5.75 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 5.70 in March; 7.47 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 8.09 percent in March; 5.34 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 6.11 percent in March; 0.40 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.39 percent in March; and 0.02 percent for security reasons, equal to 0.02 percent in March. Weather is a factor in both the extreme-weather category and the aviation-system category, DOT said. This includes delays due to the re-routing of flights by DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration in consultation with the carriers involved.

Weather is also a factor in delays attributed to late-arriving aircraft, although airlines do not report specific causes in that category. Data also shows the percentage of late flights delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays. In April, 26.45 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up from 24.72 percent in March and down from 34.34 percent in April 2013.

Mishandled Baggage: The U.S. carriers reporting flight delays and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 2.92 reports per 1,000 passengers in April, down from both the April 2013 rate of 3.07 and the March 2014 rate of 3.68.